About a year ago I deleted my social media accounts
About a year ago I deleted my social media accounts. I thought I had done it long ago. But, no, it’s been a year!
So, what have I learned?
- The only thing that worked for me to stay away from social media was: total disconnection. Delete them. For real. After I deleted my accounts I thought many times about re-creating them but I also remembered how annoying it was. And how distracted I used to get. So, it was important in the first week to remember WHY I deleted them in the first place.
- I didn’t need to do this all by myself, relying on my willpower alone (I tried, never worked). I used technology to fight technology. For the first few months, I used the app Freedom on all my devices to create a barrier. And it worked. The secret for me was being able to stay away from social media long enough to get my brain back to a “baseline” with no constant dopamine-induced activities. I started to feel my brain working differently 1-2 months in.
- I started going out for long walks. Looking back now, it was not an easy time: the COVID-19 pandemic, dead of winter in my region, short days, and freezing temperatures. But it was the only thing I could do to fill in the void. I had to be outside. I learned that snow pants are awesome and that it’s okay to walk around with a headlamp (there are no lights on the pathway by the river, where I used to walk).
- After deleting social media I still had the urge to scroll something. Anything. I would scroll through my email inbox. But it was finite so sometimes I would open a news portal and just scroll. I was not interested in anything that was there, but I needed to SCROLL. This behavior lasted for some weeks. Then I realized how pointless it was.
- Sometimes I feel like I want to scroll something, even today. I still use RSS feeds so that became my “scrolling” thing. I paired down my feeds with only a small number of blogs I regularly read. So it’s a manageable list now, I scroll but it’s not an endless pit of junk anymore
- I now feel repulsed by any website that is too “social-media-like”. Or that has too many ads. I avoid them all.
- If I have a question about something I’ll go to Wikipedia first to find the answer. I feel like I’m 13 years old again going to the library and opening up an Encyclopedia to search for an answer.
- I read better. I can read a book non-stop for an hour now. But that happened only recently. It took me months to be able to just sit down and read for more than half an hour without fidgeting or grabbing my phone.
- I learned that it is important to embrace boredom. The best way to train it for me is to go out for walks, with nothing in my ears. No music. No podcasts. Just my breathing and surrounding sounds.
- I decreased my podcast consumption. A lot!
- I learned that I don’t enjoy audiobooks that much. I hear that one of the advantages of audiobooks is that you can read while doing something else. I tend to prefer to do one thing at a time. I can occasionally listen to podcasts while doing the dishes or cleaning the house, for example, but not books, especially if I’m enjoying it. When I’m reading something I need to pay attention and focus and reflect. Audiobooks don’t go at my mind’s speed, I guess.
Some people do a regular “digital detox” for a short or long period of time and then get back to whatever they were avoiding without letting it turn into a compulsive behavior again. Trying to use social media in moderation never worked for me. This technology evolves every day with new ways to hook us up and maybe I don’t have the energy to fight it all the time.
I’m happier now 😎. I love the Internet, but only some (quieter) corners of it.
By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.